Mental health is a universal human right
Every year on 10 October, World Mental Health Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. This year’s day is under the slogan "Mental health is a universal human right" and is an opportunity to improve knowledge, strengthen empowerment and encourage action. The Government of the Republic of Slovenia has declared 2023 the Slovenian Year of Mental Health.
At the Ministry of Health, we are aware that the universal human right to mental health includes available, accessible, acceptable and quality care. We have developed a range of measures and activities to improve access to mental health services, in line with the principle that mental health care is also, indeed primarily, organised in people’s living environment. To this end, various forms of organisation at the primary healthcare level are increasingly being developed, and a network of adult mental health centres and child and adolescent mental health centres is also being developed.
Mental health at the primary level is dealt with as a complex biopsychosocial condition and no longer as a medical problem. The holistic care of people with mental health issues involves the equal participation of professionals from a multidisciplinary team. By moving services from an institutionalised to a deinstitutionalised organisational form, we have enabled residents to benefit from a non-stigmatising approach, where everyone can find sources of help close to home.
Through public calls for proposals for co-funding programmes for the protection and promotion of mental health, the Ministry of Health also regularly co-funds programmes which include primary prevention programmes for the mental health of children, adolescents, young adults and vulnerable groups. These programmes complement the services provided by the healthcare system and are delivered in school, family and community settings.
In 2024, we plan to carry out a project funded by the European Cohesion Fund, namely the introduction of a peer support system in the area of mental health, and to launch the project "Development of mental health programmes for children, adolescents and young adults" within the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
The Ministry is committed to intensive intersectoral cooperation in addressing mental health issues, as strengthening a holistic approach and, above all, implementing common policies can make a significant contribution to achieving the objectives in this area. To this end, an Interministerial Working Group on Mental Health has been set up to link the ministries and actively monitor the implementation of the Resolution on the National Mental Health Programme 2018–2028.
In the legislative field, meanwhile, we are preparing a Mental Health Act and an act to regulate the area of psychotherapy. The latter has so far been unregulated, and through such a regulatory act, the Ministry aims to ensure quality and accessible help.
Slovenia has recently been hit by floods, and many people have suffered serious consequences and have experienced severe mental distress. Mental health, as a universal human right, also includes the right to care. Following the natural disaster, a team was quickly set up to coordinate the provision of psychosocial assistance in the event of floods, and it now works on a continuous basis. Seven mobile teams of experts provide this type of assistance to the population on the ground – residents have the option of receiving treatment in their own homes or in the outpatient clinics of the mental health centre.
Mental health and well-being are fundamental to a meaningful, fulfilling life and a healthy society. This is why we all – legislators, professionals and the general public – can work together to ensure that good mental health is valued, promoted and protected, because only through joint efforts can we realise mental health as a universal human right.